NASA has shared sounds captured from the earliest moments of Perseverance’s time on Mars, part of a huge cache of photos and audio downloaded from the red planet over the weekend. It’s the first data of what’s set to be a firehose of information as the freshly-landed rover begins the careful process of unfurling its scientific instruments and cameras, and begins its work.
NASA already shared the jaw-dropping footage of Perseverance’s descent to the Martian surface. That included a vast parachute, a floating descent platform hovering on multiple jet engines, and a Sky Crane that lowered the SUV-sized rover to the ground.
Footage of that was captured by a number of off-the-shelf cameras mounted to Perseverance, the descent stage, and the back shell. However the rover itself has some serious photography equipment of its own. Its Navigation Cameras – or Navcams – have already been used to stitch together six images in a panorama of the Jezero Crater where it landed.
From that image, captured by the color Navcams mounted on the remote sensing mast, NASA has built up a 360-degree view that you can move through on YouTube. If you’ve got a virtual reality headset, meanwhile, it should be even more impressive.
The best is yet to come, however. Mastcam-Z is still going through its calibration process, but its pair of cameras will add a zoom to the equation. The Enhanced Engineering Cameras are 20-megapixels, meanwhile, higher quality than the sensors mounted on the last Mars rover, Curiosity.
Unexpectedly mesmerizing, meanwhile, are the first audio recordings that Perseverance recorded on the surface of Mars. The rover has two microphones, one integrated into its MastCam-Z imaging system, and a second fitted as part of the Entry, Descent, and Landing camera suite.
While the Jet Propulsion Lab team was already working on adding microphones to the EDL system, the goal of recording sounds on Mars was made even more meaningful after it was pointed out that the audio clips could help visually-impaired people get an understanding of what it’s like on the red planet. Unfortunately the microphone did not capture audio during the descent process.
Still, this is all just the first drip of what’s set to be a gush of content from Mars. NASA is already uploading raw photos from the various cameras to its gallery, with everything from views from the EDL system of the parachute deployment and the descent stage, to close-ups of the Martian soil and rocks that Perseverance currently sits on. Next up will be continued calibration of the instruments, and a “wiggle” test of the wheels to make sure all is working correctly there. After that, it’ll prepare to move forward and back to test the drive motors.